Scottsdale elementary school undergoing a modernization

By Alison Bailin Batz

Hohokam Elementary School is undergoing a year-long update to revitalize an important piece of Scottsdale’s history.

“Hohokam Elementary School was originally constructed in 1959 and designed by renowned architect Ralph Haver,” says Vicente Terán of CHASSE Building Team, which is working with the school district and SPS+ Architects on the build.

According to Modern Phoenix’s Ralph Haver archive, the sloped roofline, beamed ceilings and ribbon windows are all typical hallmarks of his preferred building style, echoing what he did with local single-family homes as well.

“Not only are Haver designs beloved, but many people who still live in the community once attended Hohokam themselves, so they were personally invested in anything that might happen with the school, especially a modernization,” says Darlene Cadman of SPS+ Architects.

As a result, before any plans were even developed to modernize the school, the Scottsdale Unified School District, along with SPS+, CHASSE and others, worked directly with faculty and administrators as well as members of the neighborhood via public meetings to determine the best path forward.

Stakeholders and the building team determined that the small schoolhouse buildings and courtyard spaces would stay, preserving the historical importance of the property as well as the lush greenery that has been growing proudly in the space for the past seven decades.

“One area that we certainly needed to address was the administration building and cafeteria, as well as indoor and outdoor physical education and recreation space,” says Cadman, who worked with CHASSE on a paperless 3D model of the school and its potential new plans.

The new plan will move the administration and lobby of the school to the front of the property, which will help with security and check-ins by visiting guests as well as parents and guardians. It also adds a shaded outdoor amphitheater where children can gather and take advantage of the Valley’s 300-plus days of sun.

“A new cafeteria space is also in development, which will connect to a new PE building and be near the amphitheater so together they can serve as the heart of the school,” says Terán, noting a new roof developed in Haver’s style is also part of the new plan. “All materials and colors, even those being used on the roof and windows, are mid-century modern in homage to Haver’s preferred style including brick, unpainted blocks, metal accents and more.”

Other upgrades—including property-wide Wi-Fi, upgraded insulation to new and existing buildings, and sweeping upgrades to all mechanical and electrical systems—are also in the new plans. Design also takes modern ergonomics into account.

“The final element for us was finding a way we could get this all done in a year,” Teran says. “It sounds daunting, but with our partners and a lot of communication and planning, we are going to make it happen.”

The team utilizes CHASSE Lean to ensure it keeps costs down and gets done on time.

“CHASSE Lean is a collaborative process to achieve maximum value on all of our projects while minimizing project waste such as cost, material, time and effort,” Terán says.

From the baseline construction schedule prepared during the design phase, CHASSE Building Team invites the entire project community to participate in a Pull Planning Session. Using a graph schedule, each community member can map out their task, what they need to start, how many days the task will take, and how many team members are involved. This innovative approach is very different than typical construction scheduling methods.

“The end result is a project schedule the community collaboratively creates, agrees upon and takes ownership of,” Terán says. “And when this school is complete, it will be something we will all be proud to have had a role in creating.”

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